Topgolf is a divisive topic for golfers worldwide.
Many people feel that these high-tech, entertainment-focused driving ranges degrade the sport’s image and reputation.
Others find the relaxed atmosphere, lounge, and drinks to be a fun alternative to the typical day on the course. Regardless of your stance, Topgolf has already and will continue to have a measurable impact on the sport.
Topgolf was first started by the two Joliffe Brothers, who opened the first two locations in the United Kingdom in 2000. The brothers attempted to address the time constraint and daunting atmosphere of a typical golf course.
By utilizing then-state-of-the-art microchips were able to accomplish the games Topgolf is now known for. Despite their initial success, the larger golfing community did not embrace the new concept.
In 2005, with the help of an investment firm, Topgolf was introduced to the United States. Similar to in Europe, the reception from the golfing community was mixed.
However, financially these new locations were very successful. This success drew the attention of major golf manufacturers and in 2006, Callaway invested in the company.
Today Topgolf has over 50 locations in 6 different countries. Callaway has also just recently purchased the remainder ownership of the company.
The brand shows no signs of slowing down. New locations are sprouting up around the globe.
As previously stated, Topgolf is certainly a divisive topic among golfers. The PGA for example, has long remained not involved in Topgolf facilities and endeavors.
The merger with Callaway may legitimize the brand further though. Nonetheless, certain golfers feel the “arcade” style of play does not promote, encourage, or cultivate better playing golfers.
The reverse argument feels the facilities introduce golf to people who otherwise may not get exposed to it. It also offers a fun alternative to players who don’t have the time, patience, resources, or knowledge to play a full round of golf.
Callaway’s CEO feels this way and has even gone as far as to say, “Topgolf is the best thing that happened to golf since Tiger Woods” (Golf.com). He believes that Topgolf will be the largest source of new golfers into the sport in the upcoming years.
With the financial backing of Callaway, Topgolf’s expansion worldwide shows no signs of slowing. The company has also begun licensing out its Toptracer Range (The ball tracking and games utilized by Topgolf) to golf ranges and stores as well.
This may lessen the gap for Topgolf players to make their way onto regular golf courses. On the other hand, this high-tech development may be unwelcome by certain golfers.
Personally, we do not feel that Topgolf is a competitor to classical golf. The arcade-style games and tracking technology are optional.
No one will ever force any golfers to look at a screen. It is an alternative that mostly works to introduce people to the joys of the sport. Hopefully, Callaway’s CEO is correct, and these new facilities help revitalize the player base.